Demolition for gas station underway in south Richmond despite neighborhood opposition

Construction fencing is going up around the location of a new Sheetz gas station at the intersection of Forest Hill avenue and Hathaway Road.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 3:43 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Construction fencing is going up around the location of a new Sheetz gas station at the intersection of Forest Hill Avenue and Hathaway Road. Demolition of the vacant building in south Richmond is set to start this week.

“Our informal slogan is ‘not a done deal’ so there’s always something we can do,” said Mary Elizabeth Willis, a Richmond resident against the Sheetz location.

But if you look in the neighborhood surrounding the site, it’s clear there are plenty of residents who are not happy with who’s moving in.

One group from Stratford Hills says City Hall is ignoring the Richmond 300 plan, which discourages gas-related businesses, like Sheetz, in that area.

“We’ve been kind of expecting, okay all plans will fit that, so it was eye-opening to learn huh, it’s not quite that way,” said Willis.

The group also says a 2009 traffic study, already concerned about increased volume, has been tossed to the side.

“In 2009, Hathaway had already been seen as a problematic intersection. The volume that’s now projected with the Sheetz would overwhelm that artery,” said Keith Rader, a Richmond resident who is also against the Sheetz location.

Richmond City Hall says the Sheetz proposal is a by-right development, which means the area is already zoned for that type of business. It also means there are no approvals needed from the planning commission or city council.

“Yes, the Sheetz is not aligned with the vision of Richmond 300, but it’s not a violation because that’s a framework document. It’s not a legal document,” said Kristen Nye, Richmond City Council.

To alleviate traffic, this spring the city will reprogram traffic lights along Forest Hill Avenue, and that will include the signal at the intersection with Hathaway Road.

In a statement, Nick Ruffner, PR Manager for Sheetz said, “Sheetz is planning a new store location along Forest Hill Avenue in Richmond, which will be our first store in the city of Richmond. We expect construction at this site to begin this week. Throughout this process, as we do with all new stores, we have worked with the city of Richmond, listening to feedback and making appropriate changes to our plan where necessary. We look forward to serving our Richmond customers at this location in the future.”